The lack of a collective body of knowledge of IT standards in health care contributes to the difficulty of health providers developing systems that can easily share clinical information electronically.
To address this Holy Grail of IT health standards, the National Alliance for Health Information Technology said Wednesday it has created an online directory listing and summarizing more than 450 mandatory and voluntary standards. The directory will include links to more than 100 organizations whose working groups developed the standards.
The index helps get information about the various health-care standards "more streamlined," says Ron Piechowski, the alliance's program manager, standards. Goals of the directory include highlighting duplication of standards that address the same issues, as well as identifying gaps in standards, he says.
An example of the standards featured in the directory is Dicom, a specification for the electronic transmission of digital images such as X-rays, he says.
The directory is available now to alliance members. Beginning in June the online database of standards will be available to anyone, free of charge, Piechowski says.
Alliance members include technology and health-care providers. The alliance collaborates with government and industry leaders to find ways to implement standards-based IT to improve patient safety and quality of care.